Karadzic pleads to be freed on bail pending appeal

2 min

The Hague (AFP)

Former Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic, who was handed a 40-year jail term for genocide during the 1990s Bosnian war, on Friday urged judges to free him on bail ahead of his planned appeal.

In a motion for provisional release filed to the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia (ICTY), Karadzic asked to be allowed to live in Republika Srpksa, Bosnia's Serb entity, during his appeal.

Karadzic has slammed the court's March 24 verdict finding him guilty on 10 charges of genocide and war crimes as "monstrous".

He revealed earlier this month that on the day of the judgement at the court in The Hague he was so convinced he would walk free that he had already packed his bags.

But UN war crimes judges ruled that Karadzic, the most high-profile figure convicted over the wars that tore Yugoslavia apart, bore criminal responsibility for murder and persecution during the 1992-95 Bosnian conflict.

In Friday's motion to the court, Karadzic gave a personal guarantee that he would return for the appeal hearing or whenever ordered to come back by the court.

He said he feared dying in the UN special detention unit in the seaside district of Scheveningen, where he is held.

"I have watched my fellow detainees die while I have been detained," he wrote in his plea. They include former Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic who died in 2006 while on trial.

The former Bosnian Serb leader said he feared the high death rate was due to "environmental issues" in the jail or "a toxicity in that environment (which) may well kill me."

Karadzic, 70, was long a fugitive from justice until he was arrested in a Belgrade bus in 2008. But he said Friday that since being in detention he has "fully cooperated" with the court and did not pose a flight risk.

He has long maintained his innocence, reiterating he was "highly motivated to rectify the injustice that has been done to me."

Karadzic, who has represented himself throughout the case with the help of a legal advisor, has been given until June 22 to officially appeal against last month's verdict.